This is a great children’s message to use in big church or a class. Your entire congregation will enjoy learning about running to win (1 Corinthians 9:24)!
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Key Verse: “Run to win” (1 Corinthians 9:24).
Theme: Super Bowl Sunday
Point: Spiritual growth doesn’t happen by accident.
Synopsis: (for use from the pulpit) Audience members will be challenged to win a competition—without knowing how to prepare for it.
Supplies: Four medium-sized, unexpected objects such as a beach ball, a child’s plush bear, a cowboy hat, and a golf club. You’ll also need a timer.
Preparation: Acquire your supplies ahead of time, and pray for God to bless your teaching efforts today.
Super Bowl Sunday Children’s Message: Go! Fight! Win!
Near the beginning of your children’s message, tell your audience that in honor of Super Bowl Sunday, you’re going to start off the morning with a friendly little competition. Have everyone stand, and then form four teams—Team 1 being the far left section of the congregation, Team 2 being the middle-left section, Team 3 being the middle-right section, and Team 4 being the far right section. Select a captain for each team (it’ll be best if each captain is near the front), and ask those captains to join you at the front of the room.
Give each captain one of the unusual objects you’ve brought—but don’t give any explanation for it. If time permits and if your congregation is comfortable with this kind of vocal outburst, have each team practice a victory cheer led by its captain. Then send the captains back to their teams and say:
Say: All right! You all seem to be ready, so we’ll get started. The team that scores the most points within 30 seconds wins. Ready? Go!
Don’t give any additional directions, just start timing 30 seconds.
Obviously, your congregants will be confused (since you didn’t give them any real instructions for the competition).
Most likely they will simply stand around wondering what to do. Feel free to add to their confusion by exhorting teams to “get busy” or to “hurry up, time is running out!” Count down the last 10 seconds in dramatic fashion, and then turn to the captains and ask them to report how many points their respective teams scored. Of course, none of the teams will have scored any points because you didn’t give them any directions on how points could be scored.
Debriefing the Children’s Message
When everyone is thoroughly confused (and possibly a little frustrated at you!), collect your props from the captains, and have everyone sit down. Then say:
Say: Let’s take a moment to talk about what we just experienced.
Ask congregants to turn to someone nearby and discuss these questions:
- What went through your mind when you were asked to score points for your team but were given no idea of how to score?
- How did you feel as the 30 seconds of the game were being counted down?
- What would have helped your team to be more prepared for this competition?
- What might we learn from this experience that could help us prepare for spiritual victories in our daily lives?
After allowing time for people to discuss their responses, invite a few volunteers to share insights. Then read aloud 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, and say:
Sometimes we approach our own spiritual growth with the same lackadaisical attitude toward preparation that we experienced in this morning’s team competition—and then we seem surprised by the shortage of spiritual victories we experience in daily life. Just as the two teams playing in today’s Super Bowl didn’t simply luck their way into the big game, we must realize that spiritual growth doesn’t happen by accident. Perhaps we’d be wiser to take the Apostle Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 9:24 and “run to win,” diligently preparing ourselves each day to triumph over the trials and temptations that are certain to come our way today, tomorrow, and beyond.
Then continue your sermon as planned.
Tip: If you have a competitive captain, he may try to bluff you by reporting that his team scored points. Be sure to call that person’s bluff in a friendly but firm way. Point out that you closely observed the team’s behavior during the competition. But, in spite of having winning talent on the team, they managed to score no points.
This idea was excerpted from Make It Stick (download).